Plantar fasciitis, a painful heel condition, can be effectively treated by a revolutionary new form of shock therapy pioneered by a team of German researchers.
In recent years, surgical procedures have had some limited success in treating the condition. In fact, in many cases the surgery is unsuccessful and worsens the condition.
The 'radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy' requires absolutely no anaesthesia and no post-procedure rehabilitation time.
"Radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy significantly improves pain, function and quality of life compared with placebo in patients with recalcitrant plantar fasciitis," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Dr Ludger Gerdesmeyer, as saying.
"Three interventions of radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy ... were studied in 245 patients with chronic plantar fasciitis," he added.
After a three-month follow-up, the researchers found dramatic decrease in heel pain at first steps in the morning, during daily activities and during standardised pressure force. There was no recurrence of heel-spur symptoms after 12 months.
The overall success rate was 61 per cent, which the Kiel scientists called remarkable.
However, the researchers warned that more study is needed.
"Radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy is an effective treatment for chronic plantar fasciitis that can be administered to outpatients without anaesthesia but has not yet been evaluated in controlled trials," Gerdesmeyer said.
The study is published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.